An Incomplete Look at Golf Collectables

I really took notice of collectibles when visiting my cousin in Chicago several years ago.  A bachelor (at the time) and an avid golfer, he was seeking to get his hands on a set of clubs from his junior days to present, refinish them and display them in his dining room (which was more a golf shrine than actual dining area).  He was up to about 6 sets and needed 2 or 3 more to complete his collection.  His late brother was the one who inspired my own Canadian Golf Bucket List and he showed me a massive bag, full of ball markers from courses Paul had played.  He was saving them to give to Paul’s son, his nephew, when he turned 18.  There were easily hundreds from different courses across the US and around the world in this bag.  I was awe struck.

Golfers.  We’re a unique lot.  Whether it is golf balls, shoes, clothing or even clubs we have an amazing ability to simply amass stuff.  Most of which we’ll need, I mean there’s a reason golf balls are sold in boxes of 12.  But we are adept at collecting things we won’t use, and don’t even intend to use.  But to view, showcase and admire.  They can take us back, bringing back amazingly clear memories of golf rounds which may be many, many years old.

I have been able to successfully streamline my collectables into my garage, which serves as my practice space too (a well-lit garage with high ceilings and an awesome practice mat help me keep the swing supple, lol).

Anyway, here is my take on some of the more popular golf collectables.  I am guilty (written proudly) of dabbling in several of these with some seriousness, others less so.  I am really interested to hear from you about any collectables you amass.  Here we go:

  • Logo Golf Balls

I really like these.  They are not too expensive and can display nicely.  With a goal of playing my own bucket list of Canadian golf courses (which is close to 100) it will be nice keepsakes from my rounds across the country.  I’m almost at crossroads, with a full display rack.  Do I get another or explore a custom build which will support the size I foresee needing more easily?  Decisions, decisions

The hole in one ball is top left, most others reflective of Canadian courses I have played. Sprinkled in are other courses and some memorable connections made.
  • Scorecards.

I have never thought to keep all my scorecards…why subject myself to looking over and over at that snowman I took on that short par 4, lol.  I have seen some basement displays, assembled over many years, and it is impressive from the sheer scale perspective.  I do give people marks for originality with this one.

  • Ball Markers

I am fussy here.  They need to be metal and the smaller ones, not the poker chip ones.  I have a separate bag in my golf bag where I randomly grab three for any round.  Why three?  One to help a buddy mark his ball if needed and a couple others to quickly grab from my pocket for myself.  Strength in numbers is my goal here.  I want one and it’s easier to find if there’s three to choose from.  This has become a more underrated collectable for me and I have almost 100 now.   I’ve lost a couple over time, but these things can happen.

Here’s most of them. But there are so many more courses to explore and markers to collect.
  • Pencils

We’re getting into next level collection now.  I have a few, not enough to display but enough to not throw out.  The proliferation of plastic pencils at many courses frustrates me – quietly so – there are bigger things to concern myself with than plastic pencils.  Patrick Koenig of RGV fame (travelled the US to play golf in all 48 continental states over a year) has amassed an impressive amount, over 600 if I recall correct.  Professionally displayed, it was awesome to see.

  • Apparel

I was chasing after hats for a few years, so much so that proper sizing became secondary.  But the facts are I have about 5 hats I really wear with any regularity so over time I will pass along the others to family and friends.  I admire the golf shirt collector too, but in the summer my clothes take a beating in the humidity and heat of southern Ontario so any apparel of mine has a lifetime, it doesn’t last a lifetime.

Three of my favourites.
  • Pin Flags

This may have more of an awe factor than golf balls because of their size and the host of logos and colours that come to life when placed alongside each other.  Here is a tip for collectors – reach out to the club and ask the Super if they have any older, weathered pin flags which may be available?  You’d be amazed at how the weather affects them…they don’t last as long as you’d think and are rotated through with regularity.  Some pro shops only sell new ones.  It’s not the cheapest item you’d collect, and some focus on the course which tops a bucket list to go this route.  I love them.

The wall of pin flags is progressing nicely. A modest start but there’s always space for more.
  • Bag Tags

This one just isn’t for me, never has really.  But I respect it.  There is a uniqueness to how courses, many higher end, present their bag tags.  Within the context of a collection, this could be presented in many ways and can really engage people within your collection. 

  • Photography

Perhaps a more personal approach to remembering courses, but photos may be the easiest means of collecting and creating (and sharing) memories.  One challenge here is commitment.  We’re often too busy playing the game to make the time to get a photo of that signature hole or that green which overlooks that lake.  Smartphones now make this more accessible than ever.  Displaying options are also increasingly available: screensavers; self-publishing options and even blogging are options to share photos from golf courses we’ve experienced. 

Smartphone wallpaper shot. Banff Springs. Devil’s Cauldron. Pure bliss.
  • Maps

Perhaps more niche and a personal bias as I’d love to get an historic routing map on one of Stanley Thompson’s top Canadian designs.  Not always easy to find, but as an historic collectable relating more broadly to the game itself an old routing map is something I am increasingly fond of (just don’t let my wife know that, lol).  Old architectural drawings which route courses hold great potential for high end collectables

  • Books

Less about courses and more about the game and its people, golf books hold a unique collectable opportunity.  Coffee table books on golf photography or golf regions; instructional books or even biographies, they can all let us in on things and people we want to know more about and help keep us connected to the game in ways we can’t on the course.  An emerging holiday tradition for me is to pour a coffee and slowly leaf through an issue of Catalogue18.  A visual overload of some of golf’s greatest pictures with a focus on courses; just so nice.

One of more my more prized possessions. The experience playing this underrated Stanley Thompson design in Prince Albert National Park was amazing. This book takes me back.

It’s not an exhaustive list, I will admit.  I’d love to hear from people who have their favourite collectables, especially if it doesn’t make the list here.  For now, the winter season is a time for me to take stock of my collectables, maybe make some hard decisions around others and seek to showcase the ones which are garage worthy!

Mildly addicted to the game of golf. Fiercely loyal. A planner, a dreamer, reflective and a proud and passionate Canadian. A father. A fiancé. A tree planter. A Trent graduate. A dog owner. Falling in love with my putter after many failed relationships. A scratch golfer stuck in a 10 handicap body. Love, love, love golf value. Fade on a good day. One ace (and seeking a second). A golf writer/blogger focused on public golf in Canada. Chipping away at my own Bucket List of Canadian golf courses.